Art history engages in problems of historical analysis and in interpretation of culture. The program provides students with a strong liberal arts background and prepares them for competitive placement in graduate schools across the country.

Why Study at Iowa?

Iowa was one of the first universities in the nation to unite studio art and art history in one school. The School of Art and Art History continues to offer both programs, reflecting its philosophy that artists benefit from the study of artistic traditions, historians learn from personal experience with the creation of art, and teachers need a firm foundation in both. The school also offers undergraduate degrees in Art.

Iowa also pioneered the concept of artist as teacher. As an art or art history major, you’ll work with faculty members who have national and international reputations and whose art and publications are included in collections all over the world.

At Iowa, you’ll find yourself surrounded by art. You’ll encounter sculptures everywhere on campus, and you may study in university buildings designed by well-known architects, present and past. You’re sure to visit the Iowa Memorial Union, where you’ll see UI Museum of Art exhibits and countless works by university artists, including your professors.

Course Work

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in art history stresses the development of critical thinking skills. It involves historical analysis and the interpretation of culture, giving you a broad background in the humanities. The program is designed to prepare students for graduate work in art history or other fields.

As you study, you’ll look at the historical relationships between art objects and society; learn techniques of formal analysis and methods for interpreting the meaning of paintings, sculptures, and buildings; and examine patterns of patronage. You’ll also develop writing and research skills.

Course work includes:

  • Two courses in Western art and culture
  • A course in African or Asian art
  • Undergraduate art history seminar
  • Eight additional art history courses
  • Writing About the Visual Arts
  • Basic Drawing
  • One course in a studio art program: ceramics, drawing, jewelry and metal arts, painting, printmaking, sculpture, design fundamentals

See Art and Art History in the UI General Catalog to learn more about this degree and graduating with honors.

Minor in Art History

See Art and Art History in the UI General Catalog.

Admission Requirements

Art history majors need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to nearly 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Living-Learning CommunitiesStudy Abroad Programs, and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Art history students may wish to apply to live in the Arts Living-Learning Community in the residence halls.

Faculty, Facilities, and Resources

The Art Library houses 100,000 volumes, an outstanding collection of periodicals, and extensive microfilm and microfiche collections.


Our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

Many art and art history graduates pursue careers that match their degree specializations, such as commercial or graphic designer, conservation or museum curator or administrator, art educator, public artist, gallery and museum administration, art appraisal, and restoration, or community art center coordinator or instructor. Others go on to graduate study in areas such as art history, art therapy, architecture, design, medical illustration, studio art, or disciplines outside of art.



The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.

Application Process

Application Process Tabs

Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Art History (BA)
Art History
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan